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What did YOU see this weekend?

 

Elle. Basically the same movie as The Piano Teacher but sillier. Huppert is great, but when is she not? -Jonathan

The Edge of Seventeen because I needed something light and fun. So delightful, and anchored by a wonderful Hailee Steinfeld performance. - Marina

 

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Entries in Best Actor (191)

Friday
Nov252016

Acting Chart Updates. Four Questions

Next week everything either begins to change or starts solidifying as the precursors begin. Woohoo, it's awards season! So ALL the Oscar charts were updated this week with the biggest gains this time going to Hell or High Water which wasn't just a momentary pleasure in the summer but a film people are still talking about - witness the Gotham and Spirit acting nods for Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster respectively.

have we been overestimating Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea? If she slips from the shortlist, who rises up?

BEST ACTRESS & BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
These categories are looking the most settled with 5 women in each chugging along smoothly toward the precursor glory. In fact apart from Oscar looking toward its default darlings (Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, who both did very fine work this year) it looks like Emma, Annette, Ruth, Isabelle, and Natalie all have reason to be hopeful. The same is true in Supporting Actress where five women (Viola, Naomie, Nicole, Michelle, Greta) have much more heat than others but they'll still have to fend off surging adorables like Molly Shannon in Other People and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Q1: If Meryl or Amy place in the leading shortlist, which one of them and who gets the boot?
Q2: If voters promote Viola Davis to lead (where she totally belongs given that Fences is essentially a family/marital drama) who benefits in supporting and who suffers in lead? Imagine the chaos!

How many nods can Hell or High Water manage? We're predicting 5 at the moment.

BEST ACTOR & BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
These two categories are much more volatile because the men haven't generated half as much conversation this year.

Q3: Might we see BOTH Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster in supporting for Hell or High Water since people love that film so much?  A dual nod in Best Supporting Actor hasn't happened since Bugsy in 1991?
Q4: Do you expect something like 2011 when underdogs like Demian Bichir and Gary Oldman rose up to take nominations that people initially assumed would go to Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Fassbender? And if so are Tom Hanks and Ryan Gosling pushed out and for whom?

ALL OSCAR CHARTS ARE UPDATED HERE

Friday
Nov182016

Fences, His & Hers

The adaptation of August Wilson's Fences is under embargo so we're not supposed to review it. I notice that hasn't stopped anyone but I play by rules (sigh). Let it suffice to say for now that it's super. Denzel Washington stays out of the play's way and the play is so grand that that's all you need. Can we reverse time and have him do this for August: Osage County and Doubt? They both derailed themselves with nervous attempts to jazz up the material to be A MOVIE.

There's no awkward attempts to "open" Fences up, and that tightness, that feeling of no escape informs this in the same way it informed the plays of August and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which all use their single settings brilliantly to inform and confine and reflect the characters. Fences is just these characters (seven of them in total), this time (the 50s), and this place (Pittsburgh) and it's beautifully acted. 

P.S. So depressed that they aren't gunning for His & Hers Leading Oscars to match their His & Hers Leading Tonys.

Saturday
Nov122016

Rank the "1 and Done" Oscar-Winning Actors

Did you catch the out of focus Yul Brynner robot in the background of a darkly lit scene in last week's episode of Westworld? That charismatic movie star had a lot of success in action films (see also the original Magnificent Seven) but he won his only Oscar race for a musical, The King and I. Which brings us back around to our "One and done" discussion. We featured the actresses who'd won Oscars for their one and only nomination a week ago and it was so fun we decided we should do the men this weekend. The "One and Done" club includes men, too, and even a few more of them. (As with the women I left out those who would otherwise qualify but for a second round via the Honorary Oscars)

Give us your top ten among them in the comments!

LEAD
A few differences worth noting that differ from leading actresses. Only 9% of leading actresses win from their sole nomination. For men, it's quite different with around 21% belonging to the 1 and done club...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct302016

Oscar Horrors: Johnny Depp Is Empty in “Sweeney Todd”

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's our new contributor Jorge Molina...

(Before I dig in, I want to make a disclaimer that this is an article discussing “Sweeney Todd” and its lead performance as a stand-alone piece, and not in comparison to the original Broadway musical. Sorry, purists. Yes, I KNOW the sing-talking is off-putting…) 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is, in many ways, the perfect marriage between the talent behind it and its source material. Of the gothic tale of murder and revenge, and Tim Burton’s signature visual style. Of Sondheim’s characters, and the quirks which both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter built a career around. Of Sweeney Todd’s cold-blooded quest, and Depp’s cold-blooded performance, which earned him a Best Actor nomination.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct042016

NYFF: Manchester by the Sea

From the New York Film Festival here's Jason on the new film from Kenneth Lonergan.

The scene that we've been waiting for all during Manchester by the Sea comes pretty much where you might expect it to, that climactic slot about 3/4ths of the way in right where stories usually come to a head. And yet, and yet, the way that it comes showcases what makes Kenneth Lonergan such a fascinating writer and director. The way we get to this emotional head is typically, for this director, winding - the film is suffused with flashbacks that don't so much announce themselves as they do sneak in through the window and climb into bed beside you, surprise spooning you til sunrise. So when this climax comes where it should come, well that in itself is a surprise, but one you only notice in hindsight.

But it's more than that. Without going into specifics about what happens, what's so fascinating about this scene (and I'm using it as a microcosm for the whole film here) is how it lays there in wait in the broad daylight for its sneak attack. It just happens. And in Lonergan's hands this feels like the sweet hard mess of real life - broken boat motors and a bumped head; the moments where we catch up while our friend is bringing the car round and suddenly the world around us crumbles. Miniature hurricanes that don't announce themselves but sweep you up and slam you down without actually moving you an inch.

Manchester by the Sea is awash in such flashes, such sudden floods. Casey Affleck gives an astonishingly light performance of utter devastation. We spend the film putting together the puzzle of him only to find out the puzzle is broken and the pieces are vanishing in our hands as we gather them up. The actor makes us gather faster, and gather harder. He makes us want to sort it out alongside him. That his performance and the film are so much much funnier than you're anticipating only makes its foundation of bottomless grief all the more vertiginous - it is, like honest-to-goodness life, disorienting with drilled deep possibilities of goodness, and honesty, and pain.